CW-KID’s XBMC Settings Guide – Part3 (Program add-ons)

CW-KID’s XBMC Settings Guide – Part3 (Program add-ons)

In Part One we looked at the general XBMC settings, in Part Two for those of you using the OpenElec operating system we looked at the OpenElec Configuration Settings, in Part Three we will be looking at various XBMC Program add-ons, that are mainly used with heavier skins such as Aeon MQ5 which is the one I am recommending, so lets get started!

When you install the Aeon MQ5 skin it will automatically install the required program add-ons, some however like cdART Manager need to be installed manually.

Here is a list of my currently installed XBMC Program add-ons. This list can be accessed from the PROGRAMS main menu item in the Confluence skin.

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Advanced Wake On Lan – This add-on is used to wake my WHS file server if it is asleep, I wont be covering this add-on in this series of blog posts.

Aeon MQ5 extrapack – Can be downloaded within the Aeon MQ5 settings to enable the other skin themes.

Artist SlideShow – This add-on is used to download and display music artist fanart images in slide shows whilst you play your music

Artwork Downloader – This add-on is used to download extra artwork for your Movies and TV Shows and Music Videos

Artwork Organiser – This add-on is used to copy all your artwork images (normally stored on your file server or NAS) to a local folder on the HTPC, for use as rotating background images on the main XBMC menus like Music / Movies / TV Shows menus.

cdArt Manager – This add-on is used to download CDArt / Album Covers (If needed) / Artists Fanarts (backgrounds) / Artist ClearLogos / Artist Thumbs/ Artist banners – artwork images for your music library.

ExtendedInfo Script – This is a new add-on I installed for Aeon MQ5, so I can use the Skin Settings backup and restore feature. It may do other things as well?

Global Search – This add-on was downloaded automatically when I installed the YouTube Video add-on

mksquashfs – Needed to be able to edit the read only OpenElec file system – Don’t think I will be covering this.

OpenElec Configuration – This is the OpenElec Configuration Settings add-on we looked at in Part Two.

ROM Collection Browser – Used to browse and launch emulator roms and standalone games in XBMC. I don’t use this so won’t be covered.

TV Show – Next Aired – Aeon MQ5 installed this and is used for showing which TV Shows you have in your collection are currently airing on Live TV.

 

As you can see on my fairly light OpenElec installation that there is a good number of program add-ons installed and most need to be configured and each has their own function and purpose etc.

Program add-on #1 – Artist SlideShow

Artist SlideShow – This add-on is used to download and display music artist fanart images in slide shows whilst you play your music

This add-on gets installed automatically when you install the Aeon MQ5 skin.

Download Settings

Here I have all the websites selected for Music Artist Fanart download, apart from HTBackDrops which can be problematic and if used can download images for incorrect artists.

“Preferred language for artist information” is set to English.

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SlideShow Settings

Under “Local artist folder” you must specify where your music is stored? i.e. the root music folder which in my case is SMB://WHS/Music.

Under “Image Priority” I find the only option that works for me properly is “Use remote images first” this means it will use the music artist fanart images it downloads from the sites in the above screen shot. The other options for “Image Priority” are “Use local images first” and “Use local and remote images” I would have preferred to use the local and remote images option, however it doesn’t work for me due to this reason here

“9.2 Using Local Images with Network Storage

In some cases “local” images stored on a network drive will only show correctly if you map a local drive letter or mount point in your OS.”

The other options “Use fallback slideshow” and “Use override slideshow” I have not enabled, they are turned off by default anyways.

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Advanced Settings

I didn’t change any settings in Advanced

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So what does the Artist Slideshow add-on do? Some screen shots to show you what it does..

The red boxes I have highlighted are the Artist SlideShow and Artist Information that this add-on provides.

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Artist SlideShow in music playback fullscreen mode – In Aeon MQ5 I have this set to use Mosaic + Viewing. You can also see the artist slideshow in the box in the bottom left hand corner.

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Program add-on #2 – Artwork Downloader

Artwork Downloader – This add-on is used to download extra artwork for your Movies and TV Shows and Music Videos. Usage of this add-on will be covered more in Part five. If you want to see how the downloaded artwork looks in the Aeon MQ5 Movie and TV Shows libraries check out my previous posts on the subject here for Movies and here for TV Shows.

General Settings

I didn’t change any settings under General.

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Limit Artwork Settings

Don’t think I changed any settings in here either, you can limit the numbers of artwork that get downloaded for each Movie or TV Show, set the preferred Language of any downloaded artwork images and their minimum size i.e. 720P.

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Movies Settings

In here you tell Artwork Dowloader which types of extra artwork images you would like it to download? For movies I download them all expect DiscArt, you may want movie DiscArt if your XBMC Skin supports it? so that is up to you.

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TV Show Settings

I went with the default options for TV Show artwork types to be download.

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Music Video Settings

Artwork Downloader can also download artwork for Music Videos, again I used the default settings here.

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Advanced Settings

An important setting here which you should turn on is “Use Local Files”. This will make Artwork Downloader download the artwork images in to your Movie / TV Shows and Music Videos folders on your WHS file server or NAS. The other options here I left on default settings.

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Note: I believe there is a bug in the Artwork Downloader add-on that has not been addressed. For me on two builds of XBMC now, it does not download Movie or TV Show Posters. It downloads all the other artwork image types fine but not Posters. The only way I could get Artwork Downloader to download a Poster image in to a movie folder on my file server for example, was to enable the option “Overwrite all existing artwork” in the screen shot above. And then I went to a movie title in XBMC and ran the Artwork Downloader in Solo mode and a Poster.jpg file would then be saved in its folder on the file server. This setting is automatically turned off after each run of Artwork Downloader, so you would have to come back in here and turn it on again each time.

The Universal Movie Scraper which we will look at in part four, is the actual add-on that gets the Movie and TV Show Poster images on first import in to the XBMC library, so this issue with Artwork Downloader hasn’t been a massive problem more of an annoyance. Also I already had a Folder.jpg DVD cover for all my content from my Windows MCE / My Movies days, so for my existing content XBMC just used my existing Folder.JPG covers.

When we look at the Aeon MQ5 Skin Settings and features, probably in part five, we will look at how you actually use the Artwork Downloader add-on then, but for now this is how the image files that Artwork Downloader downloads from the Internet look on my file server.

Artwork Files Downloaded by the Artwork Downloader add-on

extrafanart (folder)

extrathumbs (folder)

banner.jpg

clearart.jpg

disc.png

fanart.jpg

landscape.jpg

logo.png

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Note: Ignore the Folder.jpg and the mymovies files that is legacy stuff left over from MCE.

In the extrafanart folder we have as you’d expect fanart background images

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In the extrathumbs folder we have thumb images for the movie title

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Here is an example of how the four thumb images can look in the GUI. This is the ShowCase view with Thumb style enabled.

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This is also the ShowCase view with Fanart style enabled

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Program add-on #3 – Artwork Organiser

Artwork Organiser – This add-on script  is used to copy all your artwork images (normally stored on your file server or NAS) to a local folder on the HTPC for use as rotating / changing fanart background images, on the main XBMC menus like Music / Movies / TV Shows menus.

General Settings

By default Artwork Organiser is set to download all the different artwork images types from your file server or NAS to a local folder on the HTPC. I could never understand why you would want it to do this? So I only enable the following artwork image types:

Copy Movie Fanart

Copy TV Show Fanart

Copy Music Video Fanart

Copy Artist Fanart

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Advanced Settings

Looks like here you can specify your own location where Artwork Organiser will download the artwork images too. I never used this and just let it download them all to the default local path which is located at: (Linux): /.xbmc/userdata/addon_data/script.artworkorganizer

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If I browse to this location on the HTPC after I have run the Artwork Organiser script, I can see that it has created four sub-folders for the artwork image types I selected in the Artwork Organiser General Settings screen above.

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Expert Settings

This screen is far too scary and I do not dare do anything on here lol.

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To actually run the Artwork Organiser so it can go about it’s business, go to the Programs main menu (Confluence Skin) and just select OK on the Artwork Organiser from the list of Program add-ons, the script will then start to run and the images will start downloading etc.

So what is Artwork Organiser used for? The artwork images that have been downloaded from your file server or NAS to the local HTPC can now be used on the XBMC main menu. To do this in Aeon MQ5 for the Movie menu for example. I would go to the Movie menu press down arrow twice and select Customize Main Menu from the sub-menu.

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Ensure the Movie menu is highlighted in the list on the left, navigate to the option “Background Image – Use Collection Fanarts” and turn it ON.

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Now when I am on the Movie main menu in XBMC the background images that are displayed and rotated are movie fanart images from my collection. Obviously if you add new movies you will need to run the Artwork Organiser script again to update the locally stored artwork images that then get displayed on the menu etc.

Below you can see two screen shots that demonstrate the randomly rotating / changing fanart backgrounds. You can set the same thing up on the other main menu items like Music and TV Shows for example.

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Program add-on #4– cdART Manager

cdArt Manager – This add-on is used to download CDArt / Album Covers (If needed) / Artists Fanarts (backgrounds) / Artist ClearLogos / Artist Thumbs/ Artist banners – artwork images for your music library.

Aeon MQ5 Skin did not automatically install the cdArt Manager add-on for me, to do this go to System – Settings – Add-ons – Get Add-ons – XBMC.org Add-ons – Program Add-ons and select and install cdArt Manager.

File Folders Settings

Under Music Folder Path (for artwork) you must specify the root folder of your music location. e.g. mine is SMB://WHS/Music

All other settings here I left at the defaults.

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Customize Label Colours Settings

I think the default settings here, are that everything in the cdART Manager add-on GUI gets displayed in white text, I customized this a bit and changed the colours as you can see in the below screen shot.

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Extra Settings

Pretty sure I went with all the default settings here.

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Once you have saved your settings, to actually run the cdART Manager add-on again in the Confluence skin we go to the PROGRAMS main menu item to list all the Program add-ons, then just highlight and select cdART Manager from the list to launch it.

You will then be presented with a screen similar to this. cdART Manager has its own internal database and this needs to be created the first time you run the add-on, it should do this automatically.

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If for some reason it didn’t create its database or you are having issues you could try going to the menu called Advanced – Modify Addon Database – Refresh Addon Database.

I have a large music collection and it took several hours for cdART Manager to do its thing, as it reads the full XBMC Music Library and then compares stuff with the MusicBrainz website, I don’t really know exactly what it does in the background, just that it can take a long time when you are first setting things up.

Once the cdART Manager database creation / scanning process has completed, we can then start using cdArt Manager to download extra artwork images for display in XBMC.

Go to the Album cdARTs menu and then select Automatic Download, it will then begin downloading the available cdART images from the fanart.tv website.

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When its finished looking for and downloading cdART images it will show you which ones it got.

Then I repeat this process in cdART Manager, for each of the different artwork types. Apart from I never ever use the “Album Cover Arts” menu as I already have a hi-res Folder.jpg image in each of my albums folders. I did not want cdArt Manger to start downloading new album covers for me, but you may need to do that?

So for example after downloading the cdARTs as shown above, I would then go to the Artist Fanarts menu – Automatic Download – Album Artists

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Again once it has finished looking for and downloading available Fanart images it shows me which new ones it found. Now repeat the process on all the other menus i.e.

Artist ClearLogos / Artist Thumbs / Artist Banners

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Now exit.

This is how the newly downloaded extra artwork images look in the folders on the file server

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This is the contents of the extrafanart sub-folder for the artist Cheryl Cole

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If I go in to an albums folder, if it was available for download? There should be a cdart.png file, this is the spinning CD disc that gets displayed, see the second screen shot of Bob Marley playing below.

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I created this image for Aeon MQ4, but it explains where some of these extra artwork images get displayed in the skins GUI, kinda gives you the idea. If you can’t read it click here for a larger image.

[01-XBMC-V12-AeonMQ4-Music-Now-Playing-MainMenu4%255B3%255D.jpg]

Here are some screen shots of music playback in Aeon MQ5.

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Here you can see the Album cover and spinning CD disc and also the Artist SlideShow images.

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Here you can see the ClearLogo of the artist name “GRIMES” along with the artist fanart and album cover.

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Here in the Music Artists list, you can see the artist thumb, fanart and clear logo etc

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Note: There is currently a bug in the Aeon MQ5 Skin that affects the usage of Music Artist extrafanart, see here where I explain what the problem is!

Summary

I am only going to cover the four Program add-ons that I have just written about in this post, these are the main add-ons required for all the extra artwork stuff. In part four we will take a quick look at the meta-data scraper settings used in XBMC, these are used when you import new content in to the XBMC libraries and how it downloads the meta-data information for the content. In Part five we will look at some of the Aeon MQ5 skin settings and setup and how we can use the Artwork Downloader add-on in that skin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.phaze1digital.com

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